City Ensures Growth of the Downtown with Landmark Land Deal

The City of Fredericton has seized an opportunity to transform one of the largest and highest-profile vacant properties in the downtown into a vibrant engine of economic and cultural growth for the City and region.

The Government of New Brunswick (GNB) and the City recently concluded that a downtown location for a new provincial justice building is essential - a decision that led the City to approach Commercial Properties Limited (CPL) about purchasing its property at the southwest corner of King and Regent Streets, extending east along King and south to Brunswick St (see map, attached). The overall property is divided into 3 smaller lots:

  • King Interior Parcel: This is the proposed location for the new Justice Building. The parcel will be conveyed to GNB for the new Justice Building.
  • King/Regent Parcel: This corner parcel is a potential location for the new Performing Arts Centre.
  • Brunswick Parcel: This would be the site of a mix of high-density commercial and residential uses. A right-of-way will be included to provide access to the rear of the buildings on all three land parcels (or new developments).
  • The City will pay $8,250,000 for the property and immediately sell the King St parcel to the Province for approximately $2.4M. In addition to GNB’s purchase price, the City will collect $1M in annual property taxes from the Justice Building development.

GNB will be acquiring the NB Power land further east on King St in a separate transaction.

“This is a once-in-a-generation investment that will be serve as an economic anchor in our growing downtown and support our restaurants, hotels, shops, and other businesses,” said Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers. “More people and more business will add even more vibrancy to our city centre, adding to its appeal as an attractive destination. This project also continues to build on our strong and positive relationship with the provincial government.”

DFI Applauds Crucial Investment

Mike Babineau, President of Downtown Fredericton Inc, said news of the deal comes at a critical time for the businesses he represents. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult for downtown business owners, many of whom have struggled this last year,” he said. “This investment in the growth of the downtown is a wonderful light at the end of a very long tunnel. It’s a crucial investment that will help set the course for a healthy and vibrant downtown for decades to come.”

Mayor Rogers added that the deal satisfies many of the community goals laid out in the City’s Municipal Plan, a guiding document created several years ago following a wide-ranging and comprehensive Imagine Fredericton public engagement process. 

“People told us they wanted to strengthen and diversify the economy, increase cultural diversity, enhance downtown and riverfront vibrancy, and promote sustainability and efficiency.  This project checks every one of those boxes,” said Ken Forrest, Director of the City’s Planning and Development Department.

Strong Collaboration with GNB

Forrest further explained that the City worked collaboratively with GNB to secure a downtown location for the new justice facility within the budget established by our provincial partner. Both levels of government shared a future-oriented approach to this challenge: GNB will pay market value for land it will buy from the City. In return, the City has agreed to relax some municipal bylaw and permit fee requirements. The City has also committed to a future conveyance of land to GNB for a new school in one of the growth areas identified in Fredericton’s Municipal Plan for $1.

“This innovative intergovernmental partnership locates the justice facility in the prominent area it deserves and also creates a new partnership model to locate schools in the right places, consistent with municipal plans for growth,” said Forrest.

Paul Moore, Commercial Properties Limited’s Executive Vice-President, said it was important to the company that the land be used for public good – a goal he says was achieved by the deal with the City. “Commercial Properties was pleased to work with the City of Fredericton to arrive at an arrangement that will see this strategic parcel of land developed. This will mean even greater vibrancy in Fredericton's downtown and improve the quality of life for residents,” said Moore.

The landmark deal also creates an opportunity to return to the initial preferred site for the Performing Arts Centre and avoid a prolonged closure that would cause damaging economic repercussions in the downtown. “The City and the Playhouse Board will work together to determine the best way forward for the new Performing Arts Centre,” Mayor Rogers explained, adding that the design process for the Performing Arts Centre will not start until the final site selection has happened.